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The Third Way, Part 2

Our Guest Columnist is Alice Marshall

My friend Sharon had serious conflicts with her stepdaughter, Anne. Gritting her teeth and ignoring the misbehavior and disrespect didn’t work. Sitting down and lecturing her led to shouting matches. Desperate to improve the relationship, Sharon decided to try a third way. She started doing her stepdaughter’s chores with her. Side by side. Instead of “Do the dishes,” she said, “Do the dishes with me.”

At first only sullen silence accompanied the splash of water and clink of dishes. One night, Anne broke the silence with a complaint about a teacher at school. This was just the sort of comment that in the past Sharon would have jumped on, but this time, she just nodded, and kept washing dishes. It was a start. Within a few weeks, Anne began to open up and speak more, and Sharon kept listening. She realized that she had done a lot of talking (and yes, some yelling), but very little listening. One day, Anne actually asked Sharon’s opinion. Eventually, washing dishes became the highlight of the day for both of them, and their relationship improved.

It’s hard to fight when you’re standing side by side.

One of the folks I follow on Twitter shared his experience of being heckled by a group of youth. They shouted anti-muslim slurs at him as he walked down the street. Thing is, he is Sikh, not Muslim.

He could have ignored them. After all, they were shouting at the wrong person. He could have yelled back. Instead, he walked over to them and put out his hand in greeting. He took the opportunity to educate them. “I’m not muslim,” he said. “But that doesn’t make it ok that you’re yelling these hateful things.” He took the opportunity to point out that variations of the language they used have been employed to marginalize minorities throughout history.

Jagmeet Singh, a Canadian member of parliament who is Sikh says, “My response to Islamophobia has never been ‘I’m not Muslim.’ It has always been and will be that ‘hate is wrong.’”

“It takes love to understand that we’re all in this together. It takes courage to come together, demand better and dream bigger, so that we can build a world where no one is left behind.”

We are called to love our neighbor. We are called to love our enemies. Jesus’ love and example can give us the courage to stand shoulder to shoulder, and to build relationship.

Yours in Christ,
Alice Marshall